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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1976

Senator WATSON —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware of an approach made to the Minister for Defence by the executive of the Armed Forces Federation of Australia in regard to the formation of an association or union? Given the serious implications for defence discipline and the platform of the Australian Labor Party on the right of Service personnel to form and belong to an association of their own, will the Government give its support to this new association? Have the defence chiefs warned the Government on the consequences of such action or the formation of such a union? Further, is not this action by members of the forces a reflection of the serious deterioration in members' conditions of service and the decline in morale because of the attitude of the Labor Government?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have no knowledge of or briefing on the matters to which the honourable senator referred. I will endeavour to get him a reply as soon as possible, but it will be one, I am sure, that certainly gives no nourishment to the doomsaying and the general dire prophesies that accompanied the asking of what was otherwise a perfectly reasonable question.

Senator WATSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. If the Minister is in any doubt, would he like me to table some of the relevant papers so that he can be informed appropriately?

The PRESIDENT —I do not know that that is a supplementary question.

Senator Gareth Evans —If the honourable senator is seeking leave to table something he is perfectly welcome to do so.

The PRESIDENT —Does the honourable senator seek leave to table some documents?

Senator WATSON —I do.

Leave granted.